Excessive sweating usually occurs in people who are otherwise healthy. The problem commonly starts during childhood or adolescence and is a life-long condition. Heat, nervousness and anxiety can trigger or aggravate sweating and it can also appear without any trigger or reason.
Excessive sweating causes awkward social situations as one may be dripping with sweat and have difficulty holding a pen or even gripping a steering wheel. Sweating also stains clothes and ruins dresses. Sufferers in extreme cases may even avoid shaking hands to avoid embarrassing situations. Treating hyperhidrosis normalizes the patient’s quality of life and minimizes many of these social awkwardness.
Commonly available treatments include over-the-counter anti-perspirants (commercial or medical), oral medications, tap water iontophoresis, Botox injection and surgery.
Iontophoresis uses tap water to conduct a mild electrical current through the skin’s surface. It’s not entirely understood how or why iontophoresis works but it works for a fair number of patients. When it works, one has to continue with the treatment 2-3 times weekly to maintain its effectiveness.
The most commonly used oral medications is a type of medication that works by blocking nerve signaling. Although the majority of patients will typically respond to it, there are intolerable side effects that tends to develop, which include dry mouth, blurred vision, urinary retention and constipation. Hence, it is seldom used for actual treatment.
Botulinum toxin stops the sweat production by blocking the nervous system from reaching the sweat glands. A midterm solution to sufferers, Botulinum toxin treatment for excessive sweating is an outpatient treatment that can be completed in less than an hour. This treatment can be done on palms, soles, underarm, forehead, cheeks, nose or any part of the body. Each treatment can provide relief for about 6-10 months. For some patients, the improvement can even last longer than a year.
A special type of surgery can be carried out that will provide long term solution to the problem of excessive sweating, only in armpits and hands. It involves cutting, burning or clipping a specific nerve near the neck area that controls the sweating. However, a side effect is that other parts of the body may sweat in excess and this is known as compensatory sweating.
Body odour is determined largely by secretion from apocrine gland in the skin. Odour also arise from dried sweat on clothes or may originate from metabolic disorders, ingestion of foods or drugs. There are marked individual and racial variations in body odour and excessive sweating or poor hygiene often aggravates it. Medical and dermatological conditions associated with excessive sweating or overgrowth of bacteria (eg, obesity, diabetes mellitus, fungal infections) may be contributory causes of body odour as well.
Good hygiene and use of commercial antiperspirants may help. Botulinum toxin is also able to provide relief from this embarrassing condition because it stops excessive sweating, reduces the moisture, bacteria activity and hence, the bad odour.